A guide to the Outdoor Retailer summer show with #ATQA

It’s the most wonderful time of the year – or so I hear. The annual Outdoor Retailer show is gearing up to begin its popular summer event, and I’m gearing up for my first ever attendance at this legendary gathering of outdoor brands, reps, and industry enthusiasts.

So what can you expect from the OR Show? Well, frankly, I haven’t a clue. Fortunately, last week’s #ATQA Adventure Travel chat took an in-depth look at the event – and in lieu of the standard chat recap, I thought it would be much more fruitful to turn our conversation into a mini guide to Outdoor Retailer’s summer show.

Who can you expect to see there?

We all already know that big names like Columbia Sportswear, Teva, and North Face dominate the scene – but one of the best parts of the OR Show is getting to know all the lesser-known brands that are often making their debut at Outdoor Retailer. I’m particularly excited to meet with Diana and Arone from Stonelick (@STONELICK_), but here are a few other great companies to be on the lookout for this week:

Juil (@JuilConnect) will put some sole in your summertime with innovative footwear designed with unique energy flow technology – which you can check out at Booth PV382.

While we’re talking about keeping our toes content, another footwear brand I’m excited to see is Point6 (@Point6), makers of some sweet wool socks designed for any season.

For Tim Miner of @TrailSherpa, the most anticipated brand is Chaco – and we all agreed on being excited to check out Geigerrig’s  newest products.

Top tips for first-timers?

I must admit, as a novice OR Show attendee, I shuddered through my fair share of jitters while preparing for the trip to Salt Lake City. My anxieties were soothed upon hearing that fellow #ATQA-ers were Outdoor Retailer virgins, like Whitney @Whitneyio. Thankfully, we had a crowd of veterans eager to share their insight to the event.

The most resounding bit of advice? Wear comfortable shoes. Another good tip from @rockgrrl is to make sure you take advantage of opportunities to hydrate yourself – and bring a water bottle to refill.

It’s also key to stay true to yourself, your style, and your needs as an outdoors enthusiast. Some folks are there purely to scope out new gear, others are solely interested in the after-parties – and for Tim Miner, there’s a personal agenda to focus on.

Here’s a great tip from @Thatguysgarage: “Walk it all as fast as you can first. Take down booth numbers to come back as you go – that way, you see everything.”

If you’re there as media, try to schedule appointments with folks – everyone is crunched for time, so you don’t want to ambush them. As for exhibitors, @JennyWillden suggests that you “give people the fifteen-minute version of your product and story, then let them as for more info if needed.”

Seasoned show goers have a few warnings for newcomers as well. With the enormous size of the convention center, you may find it challenging to find folks you planned on meeting with – and the inevitable influx of people in one space means that cell service is often lacking. Be sure to arrange meet-up times and places well in advance to avoid the risk of getting lost in the sauce. Also take note that if your phone spends the entire day searching for a signal, you may run out of battery sooner than you expected. 

Best innovations and gear sneak peaks?

After putting Columbia Sportswear’s latest innovations to the test during a 3-day excursion to Havasu Falls in the Grand Canyon, OmniTen member Steve, of @TheMostEpicTrip, and I can agree that the OmniFreeze Zero technology is something every adventurer will want to check out. Columbia’s promotional efforts for the new gear includes an exclusive minty ice cream flavor that I reckon they’ll giveaway at the show – and that stuff is so tasty.

Other gear to get you excited includes the family-friendly @piggybackrider, which one Best New Product at last year’s summer show. There will also be a sweet child carrier from @ospreypacks for adventurous families.

With all the fantastic new gear being showcased, you’ll likely find yourself overwhelmed by all the outdoor toys at your disposal. From stoves and socks to headlamps and dri-down jackets, you’ll feel like a kid in a candy shop.

What events, seminars, and parties should you attend?

Early birds seem to be buzzing about Wednesday’s Open Air Demo, including @JennyWillden, who will be at the show with Outdoor Sports Guide (@OSportsGuideMag). Alternatively, J. Brandon (@AmericanSahara) and I will be manning a refreshment area over at the Exhibitors set-up – so come say ‘hey’ if you’re in the area!

This week’s #ATQA sponsor was Ascent Douglas (@AscentDouglas), who will be hosting a seminar on Thursday at 11 AM about hub manufacturing. Industry start-ups should perk their ears up when the Ascent Douglas campaign rolls through – this Nevada county is keen on inviting up-and-coming companies to establish their headquarters at this unbeatable location that combines ideal manufacturing conditions with a stellar outdoor location.

For @JennyWillden, the can’t-miss-that events are the Wolverine Concert at Depot, the Industry Party, and all the giveaways.

On Wednesday, @AmericanSahara and I will be hosting #ATQA live on-location at the Outdoor Retailer show, and we encourage anyone to come by and join us for the chat – both in person and online. Additionally, an #ATQA tweet-up is in the works for the weekend, so stay tuned for details!

If you ask @OnlyDirtRoads, the Teva party is a wild celebration that’s “guaranteed to ruin the next morning.” But make sure you stop by the Teva booth to grab a ticket! Here’s his official scoop on the event: “For you kids: Teva Party: 10pm-3am Friday. Club Elevate. get invite at Teva booth #10011

Other notable tidbits?

As @TETONsports shared with the crew,there is a gong at OR Show. Yes, folks, a gong. At the sound of the gong, the kegs allegedly roll out. In past years, the partying began around 4:00, but this year the festivities will be held off until 5:00. Either way, listen for a resounding ringing to signal the end of your day buzzing around, and the start of a more relaxing form of networking. Everything is better with beer, right?

According to @Point6, the sandwiches at Toasters across the street from the Salt Palace are truly tantalizing. 

Haven’t booked a hotel yet? No worries. While most attendees made reservations well in advance, some folks are taking advantage of alterative accommodations. Utah residents @JennyWillden and @TheMostEpicTrip are lucky enough to live out in Salt Lake City, while @Thatguysgarage has no problem will spending the evening in his truck if he has to. If you insist on finding a more proper place to stay, you may end up like Kim Hull (@FreeToSki), who will be shacking up out near the airport.

What other advice do you have to share about this epic gathering of outdoor-minded folk? Is this your first OR Show, or have you been around the block a few times? Let me know! 

Will you be at the Outdoor Retailer show this week? I’d love to connect with anyone who will be attending, so feel free to leave a comment, send me a tweet, or drop an e-mail.

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3 thoughts on “A guide to the Outdoor Retailer summer show with #ATQA

  1. Trail Sherpa says:

    This is a great post Katie! We’re both first timers at the Show but I can’t remember being more excited for something like this in a long time.

    I think you are already there so I will see you tomorrow. Save a cold one for me!

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